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Past Event

The Brookings Debate: Have free trade deals been a net positive for working Americans?

Past Event


With only weeks until the U.S. presidential election, the debate over the impact of free trade has emerged as a hotly contested issue. Heated rhetoric about concerns over American jobs and manufacturing, as well as widening income inequality, has broken the bipartisan consensus on free trade and put the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) under tremendous scrutiny.

Evidence of how much the political climate around trade has changed in recent years: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump both oppose the TPP in its current form, and Trump has proposed protectionist policies that could provoke a trade war with China.

On Wednesday, October 26, CNBC’s John Harwood moderated a civil debate between a distinguished group of experts over whether or not free trade deals have been a net positive for working Americans. The experts sat on two teams, and, among other questions, examined the role international trade plays in our economy today, how the benefits are distributed, and how we ensure that trade deals are fair to American workers.

The latest Brookings Debate is the fourth in an exciting series from Brookings that pits experts from inside and outside of Brookings against each other to argue the most pressing issues of the day.


Cocktail Reception


Michael Lind

Policy Director, Economic Growth Program - New America

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